• Do I Hear A Baker’s Dozen?

    Posted by on April 24th, 2007 · Comments (9)

    I was just wondering to myself “How many pitchers, in general, have had good seasons in the major leagues, at age 20 or younger, since they started using the D.H.?” Thanks to the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia, I have the answer. Click on the thumbnail below to see the results:

    So, in the past 34 years, there have been only 12 pitchers to throw well in the big leagues at an age of 20 or younger: Dwight Gooden, Dave Rozema, Dennis Eckersley, Rick Ankiel, Fernando Valenzuela, Dennis Blair, Bret Saberhagen, Mike Witt, Zack Greinke, Storm Davis, Frank Tanana, and C.C. Sabathia.

    Can Phil Hughes make it 13 in the last 35 years? That’s something that Brian Cashman should be asking himself – or, rather, asked himself, two days ago.

    Comments on Do I Hear A Baker’s Dozen?

    1. Garcia
      April 24th, 2007 | 1:46 pm

      When the Yanks aren’t playing at their best I tend to work more and read less about the Yanks, does this happen with anyone else? I’m sure my boss wants them to keep losing.

      Anyhow, as for Phillip Hughes….I think he’ll be just fine. This is my projection for his first outing, I’m thinking 6IP, 3 ER, 6K, 2BB.

    2. baileywalk
      April 24th, 2007 | 1:47 pm

      How many pitchers in the history of baseball, 20 or younger, pitching at least 50 innings, have been able to jump the Snake River Canyon with a Skycycle?

      I’m just kidding with you, Steve. I just find these sort of doom-and-gloom scenarios about young pitchers amusing.

      History isn’t always right. I mean, what are the chances one pitcher would give up four homers in a row? Or a team coming back from three-zip in a playoff series? What were the odds of someone hitting more than 14 homers in April (which looks about to happen)?

      Anyway, here’s the thing about the Hughes situation: it’s a dumb panic move, but the Yankee have left themselves wiggle room. If Hughes doesn’t do well, he’s going back to AAA. If he does do well, he can stick around.

      Mussina is coming back soon. Cashman said Hughes is in his spot, but let’s be honest: if Hughes dominates, then there’s no way Karstens will remain with the team. If Hughes spins a gem, then Karstens will be sent to SWB when Moose gets back.

      They have that fallback plan. But I still think the Yankees should have only brought up Hughes with the thought that he would stick with the team for the rest of the year.

      I know you have all these views into history that says no Yankee has every had success at Hughes’ age, and that not many in baseball have either, but here’s what I think about: almost all top pitching prospects have come up and done well: King Felix (at 19), Matt Cain (at 20), Liriano (at 22), Verlander (at 23), Dontrelle Willis (at 21), Beckett (at 22), Kazmir (at 21)… the list goes on and on and on. We can even point to Wang (though he was much older) who came up and had an impact. Young pitchers get it done nowadays, and I don’t think there’s any reason to think Hughes can’t handle it. Will he be great? Probably not. Making the leap to the majors is a big one. Like I said, I wish they kept him down there a few more months, but I seriously don’t doubt that with his ample talent he can’t at least be as good (or better) than whatever else was going to fill the spot. And it’s pretty much doubtless that if they let him stick around, he’ll be better than Igawa, Karstens or Rasner.

    3. JJay
      April 24th, 2007 | 2:34 pm

      “How many pitchers in the history of baseball, 20 or younger, pitching at least 50 innings, have been able to jump the Snake River Canyon with a Skycycle?”

      LOL! – I knew bailey wouldn’t let me down.

    4. April 24th, 2007 | 3:32 pm

      ~~~… the list goes on and on and on.~~~

      Not really. The list of those rushed, failed, and ruined, is the list that goes on and on. The success stories are the extreme rare exceptions.

    5. baileywalk
      April 24th, 2007 | 4:22 pm

      I said in the last few years. Nowadays, things are accelerated — the young phenoms come up and pitch early, and pitch well. Give me the list of guys in the last five years who have totally flamed out. I’m not talking about injury — because we’re talking about talent here, and injuries are simply part of the game. What big-name, well-regarded, top pitching prospect came to the big leagues and didn’t pitch well? Just totally flat-out fell on his face?

      I named the seven guys above off the top of my head. There are many more.

      How many times pre-Hughes have the Yankees faced some team with one or two good young pitching prospects and the fans always said “Why don’t we have one of those?” The best way they consoled themselves was by saying we’d get them when they were older free agents.

      Well, now the Yankees HAVE that pitcher. We agree that he’s here too soon, but if Karstens, Rasner and Wright can win a game — if Igawa and a year-late Pavano can win a game — if an average guy like John Maine can dominate the NL — then hell, Hughes should be alright.

      Karstens came up last year with a handful of AAA starts. He’s older than Hughes, but nowhere near as talented. He held his own with a diminished fastball. So I ask: Is Hughes not as good as the Karstens of ’06?

    6. JJay
      April 24th, 2007 | 4:25 pm

      It just always seems to be doom and gloom.

      It’s never, “Hughes isn’t your every day prospect. He has the stuff and the opportunity to go out there and throw 6 innings of 5 hit, 6k, 2ER ball.”

    7. April 24th, 2007 | 4:56 pm

      ~~~Give me the list of guys in the last five years who have totally flamed out.~~~

      Gavin Floyd
      Jimmy Gobble
      Edwin Jackson
      Nate Cornejo
      Billy Traber
      Sean Marshall
      Craig Hansen
      Doug Waechter
      Colby Lewis
      Hayden Penn
      Kyle Davies
      Ruben Quevedo
      Dennis Tankersley
      Chris George

      just to name a few….

    8. brockdc
      April 24th, 2007 | 6:01 pm

      Nothing to add to this segment other than to say that I appreciate these exchanges between Steve and Bailey. This is some good, intelligent baseball discourse that is very seldom found in the blogosphere.

      I know this blog wasn’t voted blog of the century or blog of the universe – or whatever. But, in a way, I’m glad it’s not. Thankfully, this blog has maintained its soul and has not (yet) been ransacked by irrational buffoons. Thanks, you guys (and everyone else). You are the ying and yang (the Jeter and A-rod, if you will) of Waswatching.

    9. April 24th, 2007 | 10:47 pm

      I’ll take quality of quantity, anyday….and, to brockdc’s point, thanks (too, from me) to all, for always bringing good stuff to the table here.

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